USM Accessible Technology and Information Workgroup Report

Executive Summary

The following is a summary of the recommendations put forth by the USM Accessible Technology and Information Workgroup. They have been vetted with all major stakeholders in the University System of Maryland, including the Chancellor, USM Presidents, Provosts, Chief Information Officers, Academic Transformation Advisory Council, Vice Presidents of Administration and Finance, USMAI consortium of libraries, Procurement Officers, Vice Presidents of Student Affairs, and Office of the Attorney General. While not comprehensive, they should serve as a guide as USM institutions prioritize their technology and information accessibility efforts and work towards achieving a more accessible electronic environment for all.

Support and Organizational Structure

  • An accessibility point-person on each campus should be identified to help guide the process and the dissemination of a USM-wide survey to get baseline data on each campus's current state of accessibility.

  • Each USM institution should form an Accessible Technology and Information (ATI) Committee comprised of administrators, faculty and staff across campus, including IT administrators and staff, web developers, instructional designers, library staff, disability services staff, procurement officers, and other stakeholders to (1) assess current campus policies, practices and resources, (2) oversee campus accessible technology and information activities, and (3) document progress.

  • Each USM institution should develop a plan with specific goals to address accessibility barriers on its campus. Remediating barriers will likely take years to implement. Therefore, campuses should work towards achieving incremental improvements each year. Given that there are finite resources available, each institution would select implementation activities that target accessibility barriers with the greatest impact (e.g., ensuring accessibility of campus web sites that are viewed by the general public).

  • Community of practice meetings should be held for the campus ATI committees to benchmark with other USM institutions and collaborate on common issues.

Guidelines and Training

  • The USM should establish a strong administrative/executive support at the USM level through the development of system-wide guidelines or policies, as well as best practices, for accessible technology and information to promote consistent standards and accountability at USM institutions. The USM should collectively establish, with input from all institutions, broad USM goals with success indicators.

  • The USM should adopt a unified procurement statement that demonstrates a commitment to (1) procuring accessible technology and (2) facilitating the development of accessible products and services by working with vendors during the procurement process.

  • USM should host information on electronic accessibility awareness and training, policies/guidelines and best practices on a central USM website.

  • USM institutions should establish and adopt best practices for developing accessible course materials with an online component on the individual campuses.

  • Training should be offered on accessible technology and information topics for faculty, staff and administrators, including basic trainings via the USM website.

Resources and Tools

  • USM institutions should have access to enterprise tools to check their websites for accessibility. The possibility of sharing site licenses across campuses could be explored, if needed.

  • Provide USM institutions with the opportunity to pool resources to facilitate accessibility and maximize cost effectiveness, including developing USM-wide contracts and processes for captioning and transcription services.

  • Given the scope of captioning needs at all institutions, there should be exploration of a fund to be established at the institution or USM level to help ensure that captioning requirements are met.

Members of the USM Accessible Technology and Information Workgroup:

Jo Ann Hutchinson, University of Maryland, College Park
Susan Willemin, Towson University
Deborah Levi, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Karyn Schulz, University of Baltimore
Tawny McManus, University of Maryland, Baltimore County